A fresh and intuitive approach to capturing primary pupils’ learning experiences.
Our simple-to-use tablet app is designed for early years practitioners, primary school teachers and TAs to ensure the easiest and most flexible approach to capturing observations in the classroom. Record assessments from the in-built list of assessment points, identify child-initiated activities, capture photos to support evidence – and so much more.
All classroom assessments can be moderated post-lesson from the ReallySchool Windows console, additional notes can be added and then, where appropriate, shared instantly with parents or carers. ReallySchool also generates beautiful journals and reports to ensure everyone can see who is on track, emerging or secure on any topic – and much, much more.
Key features include:
- Add or capture photos
- Access current assessment criteria
- Add extra assessment criteria on the fly
- One click for a detailed student view
- View a range of class reports
- See pupils’ progress in timelines
- Add audio and video notes
- Create student journals
- Share achievements and progress with parents
- Celebrate student success
- Add comments to observations
- And more!
ReallySchool effectively eliminates the time-consuming task of taking photos of learning, printing them off, sorting them out, sticking them into each pupil’s achievement book and then supplementing these with handwritten notes.
Plus, teachers and TAs can add or remove pupils from groups on the fly – and even change the criteria mid-assessment if they have noticed a pupil has done something additional to the current topic.
Easy to use
Simple and intuitive enough to enable teachers to use it quickly and without training, ReallySchool stands apart from other solutions due to its flexibility. Teachers and TAs can capture photos and videos direct from their device or add existing ones to a child’s record. They can add written or voice notes to observations as they occur, as well as see progress timelines. Plus, they can share student achievements and progress with parents – all in a single click.
Current criteria and frameworks for EYFS, KS1, Foundation Phase and KS2 are already built into ReallySchool for convenience for teachers to assess against. Additional frameworks are also included such as PScales, CoEL, ECaT and EYDJ.
Teachers can also add extra assessment criteria, record whether it was child-initiated and include students from other classes for group work – all on the fly.
What they say about us...
Now we’re in August, some of you may be starting to plan your new academic year training days. These days are often focused on giving new staff key information, reminding current staff of the school vision and targets, and motivating everyone to work hard.
Except, are they really that motivational? How useful is it to be reminded of the same information over and over again? Are all these blanket messages about teamwork, trying our best etc. just subtle hints that maybe not everyone has done this for the past year, or that new staff aren’t expected to work hard without being told directly.
When done poorly, these days can feel pointless. Teachers end up staring at the clock waiting for lunchtime and wondering why they only have one hour of dedicated free time to prepare for the start of term.
Here’s a whacky idea… What if staff got to learn something new?!
Not to mention, they had sufficient time to prepare their classrooms and have meaningful conversations e.g. Teachers discussing key pupil support strategies with their TAs.
Of course, some subjects are mandatory and must be covered yearly, so I’m not suggested removing these parts of the training sessions. I’m talking about maybe not going over policies, visions and targets that staff have been reminded about over and over, to the point where their eyes glaze over when they are mentioned. I’m also talking about maybe not making the new members of staff feel awkward every time you mention you are sharing information just for them. And the ever so cringey moments where you ask them to stand up and share something ‘interesting’ about themselves.
However it’s not all bad. Whole school training days can be a really useful experience, if they are purposeful and well-organised. I’ve attended some great training days where I’ve finished the day on a high, feeling like I’ve learnt something useful that I can take away and use in the classroom. I’ve felt like the time spent in those sessions was worth it.
As a leader, if you want to ensure that your training days have a positive impact, then check out our 9 tips for getting the most out of your staff training days.
- Share something new
Don’t just use the day to recap everything staff know. Share something new that you think staff would really benefit from. Maybe, it would help staff to have some training on outdoor learning as you want to encourage this across the school? Maybe it would be good for staff to learn how to use some new resources that could reduce their workload?
- Provide sufficient free time for staff (and trust them to use it well!)
If I’ve heard a staff member complain about a September training day, not having enough classroom time is one of the top three reasons. The other two top complaints are recapping the same old stuff, and timing issues (such as the day running too long, running over scheduled breaks, starting later than planned etc.) Your staff should have time, in school, during work hours, to get things ready for the start of term. When I say free, I mean free, not allocated to specific preparation tasks. Whether this is putting up displays, writing names on books, planning with the TA etc. is their choice. Trust your staff to organise their time. It’s an important skill they need to use throughout the year!
- Give options
Not all training is relevant to everyone, and the best CPD is focused on strengthening the skills a staff member already has and helping them to learn new skills that will improve their practice. One way to do this is to provide optional sessions during the training days. Any safeguarding and first aid training sessions (e.g. EpiPen training) would be mandatory, but during the rest of the day/s staff could opt in to training sessions they think would be useful to them.
- Consider how you ask for input
It’s something school staff are asked to consider when questioning pupils, yet on training days this thought process seems to go out the window. Too often, staff members are put on the spot or the same people putting their had up to share for every question.
Personally, I don’t like putting people on the spot, and feel if it’s going to be done it should be obviously random e.g. some app that chooses the staff member, names out of hat etc. I’ve seen staff members picked out when the speaker assumes they haven’t been listening, and wants to catch them out. Embarrassing staff publicly like this is not the right way to get them actively involved. If you really feel that a staff member is actively disengaging from the session, talk to them about it privately. They may have a good reason to be distracted.
Asking groups or pairs to share, is one way to combat putting staff on the spot. Less confident staff may feel more comfortable sharing their ideas in smaller groups and can then let someone else take the lead when presenting. Additionally, you could ask for typed or written answers to take the pressure off.
- Make it active
Staff, like pupils, do not want to be talked at. Their concentration span only lasts so long. Get staff actively involved. However, try and avoid role play activities or at least keep them to a minimum. They are another part of training days some staff absolutely dread!
- Don’t run over and start on time
It’s easy to get carried away with the time, but running over is a sure-fire way to lose engagement. The kids are back at school tomorrow and teachers are itching to get last minute jobs completed so they can go home feeling prepared. Even more importantly, you need to start on time. Any more than a few minutes of waiting time, and teachers will already be thinking about the jobs they could have completed before the session, or the extra ten minutes they could have had in bed. If staff are more than a few minutes late, and they are not leading the training session, don’t wait for them. Start without them, and they will have to catch up. Waiting around starts the day with an unnecessary negative vibe.
- Plan in breaks
As mentioned before, the concentration span of your staff can only last so long. Regular breaks are needed for staff to stretch their legs, grab a drink etc. They’ll come back ready for action rather than counting down the minutes.
- Get staff involved in the planning process
Prior to your training session (e.g. during the summer term), talk to staff about what they would like some more training on. Perhaps in a staff meeting you could list some possible topics, and get staff to feedback on how useful these would be and add their own suggestions. By giving them this involvement, you’re making them more accountable for their CPD. If they want this training, they should be more engaged with it, and therefore get more out of it.
- Ask for feedback
Giving out some feedback sheets can really help you reflect on your whole school training days. If you know what worked well and what fell short, you can build on this to make the next session even better. I’d suggest keeping it anonymous for more honest responses.
You’re an NQT! Congratulations! Teacher training is not easy. It takes hard work, determination and a lot of coffee and chocolate biscuits.
Now you’ve come to the end of your training, I’m sure lots of people have been keen to give you advice. Some of this will be helpful, some overwhelming. Although most of the advice you’ll be given has the best intentions, some may leave you feeling unprepared.
You may start the year thinking about what tasks you should have already accomplished according to X and Z, rather than focusing on what would be best for you.
The double-edged sword of social media
Social media platforms like Twitter can be a wonderful place to gain ideas for your classroom. There are some great EduTweeters out there sharing advice, support and kindness, all over the Twitter space. But unfortunately there are pitfalls, such as teacher shaming. The posts that question a teacher’s competence or methods. The posts that makes teachers feel like they’re not doing a good enough job. The incredibly patronising posts. Sometimes, this unhelpful culture is bred by those who have zero experience working in education, which makes it all the more frustrating.
Luckily, with the right Professional Learning Network (PLN) you can create a community that supports, encourages and celebrates one another. That’s why I’ve asked EduTweeters for their advice for NQTs.
I’ve included their Twitter handles, in case you want to check out their content.
Advice from EduTweeters
Build a PLN to support you. Find ways to automate repetitive tasks, e.g. comment banks. Find times to turn off email. Remember your worth is not found in results. Tell yourself that you teach better than students learn. Seek (early) support from those you can trust.
Don’t compare yourself to others, it’s a no-win situation, especially for well-being. Look at how far you have come, not how far you have to go. Don’t forget to celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. It’s these things that help you grow. And don’t forget to ask for help!
Your first year is a learning year. College doesn’t prepare you for everything. Plan well early on and understand, you won’t know everything. Ask other teachers how they would recommend beginning the year. The first day can be tough. It’s all goes up from there.
You cannot be outstanding in every lesson, every day. Pace yourself and be kind to yourself.
Finds ways of generating your own CPD (Twitter, blogs, podcasts, books), don’t add unnecessary pressure to yourself, set small targets but think big picture, allow yourself time (to reflect, grow, develop & learn), find a great mentor!
Develop a good work life balance, as teaching can sometimes become all consuming. Develop strategies to help you during busy times of the year and you will flourish.
In short, here are three key things to remember:
- Look after your well-being
- Remember teaching is a learning experience
- Have faith in yourself
If you can keep those three things in mind, you’ll be ready to face any challenges that come your way.
Enjoy your NQT year, and remember: you can do this!
Thanks to all the EduTweeters who shared their advice.
If you want to start building your own PLN, check out Mark Anderson’s (@ICTEvangelist) ‘Periodic Table of Teachers to Follow on Twitter’ to help get you started: https://ictevangelist.com/the-periodic-table-of-teachers-to-follow-on-twitter/
Congratulations, you did it! Another year being of a superhero completed, and now it’s time for a well-deserved break. Time for you to recharge the batteries, relax and have fun! Now you’ve reached the holiday, how are you going to spend your six weeks off? If you need some ideas to keep you occupied this summer, or to help you manage the transition from work to no work, then read on.
- Go walking
Make the most of the good weather by going out walking. Keeping active during your time off is really important and being outdoors is great for your wellbeing. Walking is free, easy and can be enjoyed alone or with company.
- Read a new book or two or twenty
Challenge yourself to read a certain number of books. Reading is an excellent way to pass the time, in a relaxing way that still keeps your mind active. Not sure what to read? Head to Good Reads which gives you recommendations based on your favourite books.
- Try out some new recipes
With no marking to do in the evenings, why not use the extra time to learn some new recipes. Cook some dishes you’ve been longing to try, bake some cakes for upcoming events. This is a great time to experiment in the kitchen. If you’re unsure where to look for recipes, you can pick up free magazines from most supermarkets, or you can explore websites such as BBC Good Food.
- Get arty and crafty
You could make cards, knit, scrapbook, crochet, paint , sketch and more. Creating something is really fulfilling. You could make hand-made gifts for friends and family, or maybe even make some things to use in your classroom in September.
- Visit somewhere you’ve never been
Go somewhere you’ve been wanting to visit, but just haven’t had the time to. It doesn’t have to be abroad or even far away, just somewhere new to get excited about.
- Enjoy long breakfasts, lunches and dinners
No need to rush, take your time to enjoy your meals without having to multi-task or keep an eye on the clock. This will help you to make more healthy choices about food too.
- Treat yourself to a lie in
I know this one may be tough for parents, but if you can squeeze in a lie in, it will be a real treat. It’s good to make sure though that as you get closer to the end of the holidays, you get back in to a sleep routine. This will help you get good quality sleep once you return to work.
- Catch up with friends and family
Take the time to see friends and family you haven’t had time to see. All those people in your life who have been waiting for the opportunity to see you, or to spend time with you when you’re not distracted by work! Enjoy catching up over the phone too.
- Reflect on your year
Celebrate all your achievements for the year and consider what improvements you can make in the new academic year. Focus on what you want to work on, rather than what you feel others might want you to change.
Teaching is an active job. Sometimes I would lose track of when I last sat down for more than a few minutes. Going from that to 0, is not good for your body – plus, we know we need regular exercise for our physical and mental wellbeing. If you don’t want to spend money, you don’t have to join a gym or class, there are plenty of free apps you can use, or YouTube videos you can watch if you prefer exercising at home. Running or jogging are also great ways to exercise for free. Swimming, is a really good way to get a full body workout and in the hot weather you’ll appreciate the cool down! If you can find a friend to workout with, even better, as you can keep each other motivated.
- Binge watch a TV show or sink some hours into gaming
This may sound like a contradiction to my last point, but sometimes you just need some time to vegetate and switch off your brain. The key is balance. Personally, I found the first couple days of the holidays, I needed to be lazy. Activities like watching TV or playing video games, was about all I could manage, as I was so drained. After that, I could then get myself in to a more balanced routine. There’s no harm in finding time to catch up on your favourite TV shows that you’ve missed over the last few weeks, or to start that game you’ve had on the shelf waiting to play.
- Give yourself some sort of routine
The summer holidays can leave some teachers feeling a bit empty. You’ve gone from being so busy you can barely think, to having all this free time. It’s really important to combat this by giving yourself some kind of routine. It doesn’t matter what it is, but setting yourself activities to do each day will stop that feeling of pointlessness that can occur a couple of weeks in to the holidays.
- Pamper yourself
If you’re into pampering, now is a great time for bubble baths, pedicures, facials and more. Time the time to look after your skin which may have been quite neglected during term time.
- Try a new hobby or activity
You may find you like it so much you keep it up during term time!
- Take some free online courses
There are so many free online courses you can take. They don’t even have to be related to teaching, just something you are interested to learn more about.
- Head to the shops
Maybe you could stock up stationery or work wear for September, or maybe you just want to pick up some summer bargains. You could even just window shop. Shopping on a weekday is so much more satisfying than the weekend.
- Switch off from work
Turn off the emails, put down the planning and focus on you. Spend time with family and friends without thinking or talking about work. Not easy, but much needed.
- Prepare what you need to feel organised
Don’t worry about what work your colleagues have set themselves over the summer. What do you need to feel organised for September? Is it important for you to have all your displays up and ready or do you want to add to them as you teach new skills? How far in advance do you need to plan? Do you have any resources you want to prepare in advance? Just focus on what you need to feel ready.
- Keep your wellbeing in mind
The holidays are not the only time you should be looking after yourself. You need to keep doing this day in and day out. It’s hard; your job is all about giving and supporting others. But take some time during the holidays, to think about what you can do to take care of your own wellbeing. Maybe you want to set a cut-off time for working in the evenings? Maybe you want to seek some coaching for areas of teaching you find difficult? Maybe you want to spend at least 15 minutes in the staff room each day? Whatever you think will make a difference for you.
- Make the most of it!
Last but not least, make the most of your holidays. Don’t spend all your time working or thinking about work. Have fun, try new things, take time to relax, spend time with friends and family. Don’t compare your holiday to others. I know this can be tough. I’m guilty of holiday envy myself, but it doesn’t do you any good. Yes, maybe your colleague spent 3 weeks in New York, and you haven’t been on holiday, but as long as you’ve still had a good break, does it really matter?
This post was inspired by Mark Anderson’s ’60 Things to do this summer.’ If you want some ideas for how to keep children and young people busy over the summer, or if you want some more ideas for your own summer, head here: 60 Things to do this summer